Xubuntu Gets Feisty

by Caitlyn Martin

The third release of Xubuntu, the variant of Ubuntu with the lightweight Xfce desktop, appeared last month. Feisty Fawn (version 7.04) uses the final gold code of Xfce 4.4.0 rather than the release candidates in Edgy Eft (version 6.10) and Dapper Drake (version 6.06). I had very positive experiences with both Edgy and Dapper so I had very high expectations for Xubuntu Feisty Fawn. In some ways the new release does take a step forward but in some truly important areas it took a couple of steps backwards and has been something of a disappointment.

Once again my test bed for Xubuntu has been my four and a half year old Toshiba Satellite 1805-S204 laptop which has a 1 GHz Celeron processor and 512MB of RAM. With this relatively slow processor KDE is sluggish. Xfce is also noticeably faster than a recent release of Gnome when doing significant work. Two Xfce based distributions, Xubuntu and Vector Linux, perform very well on this laptop. I really like Xfce 4.4.x. It strikes the right balance between brisk performance and features. I feel that Xubuntu is a good candidate for newer, more powerful systems as well. Having said that I'm not at all sure that upgrading from Edgy Eft to Feisty Fawn is a terribly good idea while Edgy is still well supported.

14 Comments

salman
2007-05-26 16:16:47
"...1 GHz Celeron processor and 512MB of RAM. With this relatively slow processor KDE is sluggish. "
Wow... I don't know about yours, but mine is Pentium III 1Ghz and 192MB of RAM, and KDE 3.5.x is working fine enough.
Bob
2007-05-26 22:42:54
I run KDE (Mandriva 2007) on my PIII 800 MHz. 512 MB RAM Thinkpad laptop. KDE isn't exactly "speedy" but it certainly is functional.
Félim Whiteley
2007-05-27 07:31:58
It's funny, I had the same issue with my Sony Vaio PCG-FX701 with the shutdown issue on Edgy, worked fine on Dapper, but now it works perfect on Feisty. Sorry you had the issue but I'm glad the fixed it on Feisty... sorry I am being a little selfish I know ! I logged a bug that went nowhere, not sure why but it did seem to be ACPI related. But in my case it forced me to disable ACPI to get anything to work properly.


https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux-source-2.6.17/+bug/70166


Caitlyn Martin
2007-05-29 06:18:42
Bob & Salman: I never said KDE isn't functional on my laptop. It certainly is. Having said that things are just plain faster running GNOME and faster still running Xfce. Sluggish isn't useless. I think if either of you tried Xubuntu (as opposed to Kubuntu or Mandriva 2007) you would see what I mean. BTW, I also have Mandriva 2007 and plan to write a review shortly -- a very positive one.


Félim Whiteley: I'm glad Feisty corrected a hardware support issue for you. I just wish they'd get it right for BOTH your laptop and mine :) BTW, my serial port also stopped working under Feisty. I haven't really done any research of troubleshooting of it yet so I didn't include it in the article. Serial ports are really old legacy hadware, though, so I was really surprised it didn't just work as it does on other distros or previous versions of (X)Ubuntu.


Canajun
2007-05-30 11:36:27
I had the same problem with the almost-empty desktop. It's definitely a bug in the installation procedure.


Excellent review; thanks. I would only add that the Menu Editor is practically useless. The Xubuntu team really needs to fix that.

nessmuk
2007-06-01 02:06:21
Excellent article, Caitlyn, just exactly what I needed. I'm runnig a 1Ghz hp*epc minibox, and xfce is soo much better than Gnome/Ubuntu....and I _like_
Ubuntu. Xubuntu Feisty is just way faster.
I sure needed to to know your tip about the deskop on startup....had me thinking I broke something and may need a fresh install.


keep up the good work, Caitlyn....you rock.


chriss

Caitlyn Martin
2007-06-01 12:55:22
Canajun: I honestly thought it had to be a bad CD image because I found it incredibly hard to believe the Xubuntu team let such a blatant and obvious bug through on the final release.... but.... they did. Go figure.


Cris: Thanks for the kind words. I think this is the first review I've written where I haven't been called an idiot by someone because they disagree with my conclusions :) I do have more reviews coming.

Caitlyn Martin
2007-06-01 12:57:09
chriss: Sorry about the misspelling of your name. I've got it right now.
Ed Reames
2007-06-01 13:32:31
I could not get the live CD to load on my laptop which had only 256Meg of RAM but the alternate CD installs fine.


Xubuntu is great for older systems!


I have been using it as my primary OS for about six months now.

anon
2007-06-27 13:17:59
I'm currently reinstalling ubuntu edgy eft. It comes with a neat little tool for us linux newbies which permits one to simply click a button and erase the entire hard drive for a completely fresh install.


I then plan to install overtop of this fresh install xubuntu (fiesty).


I tried to do a clean install over ubuntu fiesty but ran into alot of trouble. With mount issues and my ext3 file thingamajigg was apparently full of errors and unuseable.


I'd really like to see the Xubuntu staff make their graphic installer as simple as the one I encountered with ubuntu edgy eft.


It's literally saved chance at getting Xubuntu installed on my IBM R31.


Thanks

Markus
2007-06-29 06:50:46
Having read this, I'll give my old Samsung laptop with 233Mhz Pentium MMX and 64MB RAM a chance to resurrect !
Caitlyn Martin
2007-06-29 08:31:14
@Marcus: I don't think you'll be happy with Xubuntu performance in just 64MB of RAM. They list the minimum system configuration at 128MB of RAM and I believe that's pretty accurate. I'll be doing an article on how to do a minimalist Ubuntu install with a lightweight window manager (not Xfce) that would be a better choice for you.


Shawn
2007-08-11 04:28:15
"I started with the live CD as recommended on the Xubuntu website. I was surprised that when Xfce came up the panel appeared and then promptly disappeared. What I was left with was just a clean desktop and some icons. For a moment I thought this might be a new look for Xubuntu but I quickly discovered that the desktop menu wasn't enabled. The net result was that I had to right click on the desktop and choose Desktop Settings from the existing menu to enable the desktop menu."


I had this issue consistantly when booting to the live cd from an old Pentium III pc, but not from my newer AMD Turion 64 x2 laptop. Both instances using the same CD. Maybe it's not a bug so much as a performance issue.

steve
2007-09-30 03:54:31
i've only been using gnu/linux for a few months. i keep trying different distros, but keep coming back to xubuntu. when i left windoz i was using 2k...xu is "sort of" the same look and feel. simple, not bloated. i use fiesty and recently tried gutsy. i like feisty better, but after reading your review, i'm going to try edgy with the alternate cd. thanks for a great review.